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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  May 14, 2011 9:00am-10:00am EDT

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>> our speaker today, maureen beasley, professor america of journalism at the university of maryland. as i was reading her bio i noticed the connection with the state of missouri. she attended the university of missouri journalism school which if you know anything about journalism, that is one of the top two schools of journalism in the united states. ..
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her most recent book is what she will be discussing with us today. "eleanor roosevelt: transformative first lady." [applause] >> thank you so much. it was really wonderful to find out that we have this connection. his grandfather was mayor of that town that i grew up in. i have a feeling that his father actually was a student of my
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mother at smith caught a high-school. i'm going to tell you of a bad about that as i get into my speech on and eleanor roosevelt, but i do want to thank dr. donald kennon for asking me to be here today and to say that i am so happy i am a member of this organization and have been for many years. we are so fortunate to have vital historical organizations like the united states capitol historical society help us recognize the importance of our heritage as americans. it isn't it studying of the past that gives us the strength and vision to press onward into the future? every time i get into the rose of material, as i must say that my husband and i who has joined
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me in researching for many years has been in to the the pressure for a long, long time. every time that we get into it we are struck by how much the life of this woman can speak to us today. i hope i will be able to share a bit of that with you today. i also want to introduce another person who we will hear more from later and that is cornelia james straws are. -- cornelia jane strawser. she knew eleanor personally, visited as a small child. and her mother whose picture you will see was the first biographer of eleanor roosevelt and the person who had an impact on the career of eleanor roosevelt in the white house.
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i am so pleased that cornelia is with us and has brought a couple of prized items from a personal collection. she will tell you about those that they relate to the visit of the king and queen of england, the roosevelts in 1939. she will share her experiences during the question and answers that will follow my remarks. i wonder if there are others in the audience who also have personal recollections of eleanor? okay. great. bob, during the question and answers help you will share those. eleanor is still being written about. she lived from 1884 to 1962. here we have at least three books that i know of. perhaps are more. they have come out within the last five or six months. people are still writing about
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it. they're still exploring vests of her career and had been unexplored. she is still speaking to us. of course today what i am going to talk about is the way she spoke to us as first lady. so, let me put on my calendar roosevelt of fit. the neckpiece was favored by her and many other ladies of the day in the have you remember when these were ubiquitous will work for biden's jack and upper-class families. well, i where this because i like to transport us from back teller's era. of course here and have my prop. one of her many traveling half
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its. carrying her big purse. here is franklin with his jaunty look. he would never know that he could not walk when he was in the white house. actually, never could cut -- work again. so this in the supermarket. eleanor roosevelt refrigerator magnets. she has her fur on. then, of course, their little dog. an era dominated by these folks here. so, please join me now in pitch during a scene that will take us back to the past. this is a drafty old house, and i usually just say a small town in missouri. here we have an exhausted housewife trying to keep warm at the end of a dull day of
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housekeeping while reading her favorite columnist in the kansas city star. suddenly she looks up at her little girl. she says, i am sure that she is better than he is. well, who do you think that she was? eleanor roosevelt. to was that he? franklin. my family was republican. they would have set pretty well with the tea party crowd we have now. but my mother loved reading eleanor roosevelt. to any of you remember? i see a few heads not. this is a call about a woman who was doing something, adorned places. she was doing things. she was making history.
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actually, i think my mother's interest in that stimulated me in part to get an education and eventually moved to washington myself. years later when i was asked by editor of the modern first lady's series that has been featured this month during these men time meetings, read a biography concentrating on how .. change the role of the first lady. first ladies before her had been hostesses, help mesa their husbands in various degrees. some of them have been unofficial advisers. but eleanor a change of that. she made the role of first lady much more important. i'm going to be talking about that. historians will tell us,. ♪ did not want to be first lady,
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los teeseven the campaign for franklin in the election of 1932, the first of four in which she was chosen president. why didn't she want to be first lady to check most of us would think that is pretty nice to my thinking. well, because you have to remember that when she was of roosevelt before she became a roosevelt. her uncle was teddy roosevelt, president of the united states at the turn of the century. some say franklin just followed teddy's career. she had seen teddy's wife presided in the white house, mainly as the hostess. she just didn't want to do it. ice battista want to sit in the white house imports cheap. now, she would, perhaps, like to
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been a closer revised their husbands and she was. other she certainly give him the benefit of her idea, she never hesitated to offer opinions that he might or might not accept. so, frank and was elected. she went and said, not going to have much to do. can i take care of your mail to iraq actually, that was rather commonly done by political lives in those days. harry truman's life and works his office and taken care of his mail. the vice president's wife also in his office helping to take care of the mail. that wasn't an unusual request. what do you think franklin said? no. of course not. that is mrs. job. he was referring to his personal secretary.
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in fact, history is dubious, but it is in the biography. there is even speculation that a law was so upset by thinking of having to be first lady which she saw as an empty ceremonial role , she did not want to participate, she wrote a letter. in that letter she threatened to leave franklin and run away with her zero bella. you have to remember, we think of these people as saints, but their flesh and blood just like us. we don't know if there was such a letter, there are people who supposedly saw letter. the letter, supposedly destroyed by louis hell who was the first
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friend and confidence. also political genius. at any rate how does it happen then that this unwilling woman who really didn't want to the first lady rewrote the script for first lady from 1933 until 1945. it made the job of first lady part of the white house political communications process as it yesterday. it is a script that all of her successors have had to take note of, whether they voted on not. most of them have followed it, at least in part, by finding appropriate causes to entrust themselves and and to publicize. now, i argue in the book that this case became accustomed to being first lady she separate possibilities in this role. she saw the possibility of making it a platform, a bully
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pulpit as her uncle, teddy roosevelt, had said of the presidency. but the bully pulpit. i can speak to people, get attention. well, she saw the first lady as the same way. she saw possibilities for communicating with the american people, particularly women. we have to remember that eleanor was part of the woman reform democratic party in the 1920's and 30's. she honestly believed in a lot of social causes which she wanted to promote, especially to women. and she became accustomed to being first lady she realized she did use the web has to call attention to the causes in which she believed. one of those was the right of married women, including yourself, to pursue a money
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making career. i will tell you, she made a lot of money in the white house. we often don't think about that. first ladies since her have written books. no one has the kind of money making career she had in the white house. how did she learn to do all this? was inspired her to do it? who did she draw ideas from? she didn't have any experts in public relations war in spin devices were focus group parent of the depth. i think she borrowed ideas from a rather small group of personal friends. what made eleanor roosevelt and upper-class patrician, one of the 400 families in the new york society. made her write a newspaper column that related to people like my mother.
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well, she had a lively intelligence, a genuine interest and others. i think she learned from some of her personal friends a lot about communicating with just average folks like us. let me read you a little bit of this column so that you get the idiot. this is from 1938. headlined, i felt very guilty to have missed my hostess. washington has bloomed considerably in the week that i have been away. it seems much more like spring here than it did in new york state. at 1030 this morning and went out of the university of maryland to give a talk. because this is a land grant college they have quite a large military force. a drop to the front of the auditorium in the because i was impressed by the number of boys in uniform standing outside the door. does that sound must like a
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political opponent today? no. what does it sound like? a bit you can tell me from the internet. blog. and it was written like that. so,. ♪ was communicating with people, making the job of the first lady a bully pulpit. in my opinion she was trying in some degree from the personal relationship that she had with some remarkable but not the kind of folks you would expect aristocratic ladies to have. in any event let me move on and show you slides that will help illustrate what i'm trying to say. of course, she drew from franklin roosevelt.
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and obviously she built her whole career on being mrs. roosevelt. of course she helped franklin politically. but you notice in this slide which shares eleanor and franklin shortly after their marriage. there is someone in the middle. who is that? frankland's indomitable mother. but franklin and sarah are looking at each other and eleanor is time the to the side. that is sort of the way it was in their marriage. now, most of us know the story that second told the family purse strings. tried to tell her what to do, even to the point of supplanting
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year as a mother for her five children. a six childhood died in infancy. but definitely was an influence. now, we know that eleanor and franklin lived increasingly separate lives after she discussed -- she discovered his romance with lucy mercer during world war one. but that they stayed together. why they stayed together? one reason is, franklin, you leave eleanor and those children and i'm going to cut off the money. that just made him think about things. then, of course, is political genius, it's going to run your political career if he should leave your family. at any rate it decided to stay together. we know that eleanor nursed franklin devotedly. then as franklin tried to
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recover and went off to warm springs in the south to try to seek healing was never really succeeded in his seat could never walk again, eleanor starts her own career. she begins to write magazine articles which sold on some subjects such as benin in politics. the women's division of the new york state democratic party. remember, women had just got the vote. this is a new field. she is entering into it. she is becoming part of the network of the new deal women performers. she is teaching school, exclusive taught hunter school in new york. she could not have taught in public school.
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she never had an education past finishing school. so she bought a share. that permitted her to teach there. she went on record to say there is nothing she had ever done in her life as she liked as much as teaching. in fact, as first lady she saw herself as a teacher to the american public. well, now, franklin, in spite of not being allowed to walk, is elected governor of new york in 1928. probably did not know how incapacitated he was. historical evidence is split on that. anyway, at that time she accepted the role of the secretary. a kind of surrogate wife who could fill in for her and provide franklin with the feminine attention that he lied
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to. eleanor finds a companion of from. that me show you this. here are the four of them together here. the athletic looking man on the end. next to him. then we have franklin and then ella. carol miller was a highway patrolman who was assigned to eleanor as her bodyguard when franklin selected governor of new york. they became very close. he brought a sense of fun to this serious minded eleanor. here we see in this 1934 home movie that the two of them are
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in a little play. it a pirate, but to kidnap the first lady ." they were quite close. they would go on walks together. she read poetry to him. is she loved doing things for him, even cleaning up his house or apartment, buying things. it is perhaps like a man looking after a favorite nephew. we don't know exactly their relationship, but we do know it is close, and we also know that franklin did not want perot to come to washington as part of the was a vote on dryish in 1933. he found girl i'd give government job in washington state. eleanor and barack continue to be a touch. she would visit girl while she was first lady.
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in fact, i really believe that miller helped her make that transition to a first lady by giving her self-confidence. he encouraged her to ride horses, but docs for her to play with. that is they were sort of protection. he also taught her how to shoot again. as first lady she refused sica service protection. so he taught her how to shoot again so that she could carry began in the glove compartment for car. miller all during the time she was first lady even though he was married and divorced and their several times, offered her relaxation from her high profile life. now, once in the white house she found that she had to play a ceremonial. here she is in what appears to
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be a heavily retouched photograph. inaugural reception of its. you can see dead sea is the first lady. i wonder how many of us are aware of this. she was actually on the best dressed list of women in 1934. she had arrangements with a new york department store to wear their attire and have her picture taken like this one. in these pictures will be circulated all through the country. mrs. roosevelt and half its. now, i think this was a financially advantageous a reason for both. now we get to the person who was much more of an influence on her as she transforms the role of first lady. we cannot see this person to
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well. we get some idea, perhaps, of the way that she hid herself from public view when eleanor was in the white house. she was definitely there assisting in transforming the role of first lady during the first administration. here we see eleanor and then we see this woman in the background. okay. the top political writer for the associated press in new york. she was assigned to the roosevelt campaign train in the election of 1932. the campaign train went all over the united states. eleanor was there, of course, to stand by frank luntz side and smile when he gave speeches. the role of political life. well, he cack realize that our
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was not happy in this role. in paris, years later he wrote a book called reluctant first lady which is part of why we know how much she did not want to the first lady. anyway, the two of them found themselves soulmates. now, hitchcock is a lesbian. she and alan r. became very attached. to what degree they had a physical relationship no one knows for sure. the indisputable evidence is that there was a close emotional relationship and that she was helped in transforming the role of the first lady. now, they drove together in that car. it took private vacations together. six weeks in 1933 and 1934. the press left them alone. i cannot imagine that happening today. here they are and a tourist town
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in massachusetts. now, he'd talk went with our roosevelt on the first trip made by first lady outside the continental u.s. states while her husband was in office. this is a trip that elenore made to pr. i want to call your attention in particular to the woman who is standing ted l. norris immediate left because that is ruby black. she has the dress on, a definite pattern to it. and of course his mother. and she helped arrange this trip. the correspondent oprah newspaper in pr. she spoke spanish and was quite involved in port rican politics.
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she helped arrange for elinor to make this trip. these other people with her are devoted admirers of our companies bigger women who covered her press conferences for women only. hitchcock had to leave the associated press because she was so close. she had no more journalistic integrity or of the activity. she had given her the idea of having press conferences for women reporters only in the white house to give the plant something that the man cannot get. extremely involved in these press conferences, and it was because of this woman only rule that ruby was hired by the united press which in those days had a rule against airing any woman. women were not considered capable of being journalists. if they worked for a newspaper
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every usually consigned to society news, women's pages, that kind of thing. so, ruby black, like these other women, very grateful for having these press conferences. 347 of them while in the white house for women only. the other women represented teeseven well, the will of the end. the new york "herald" tribune and which objected to the roosevelt administration. she wrote the loveliest stories. next to her was door to do good he worked for a hearst newspaper president. she is writing these nuys articles. i said, rudy black. on the end the menu works first for the associated press and later for the new york times.
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these women actually more less turned into sellers public relations agents because they admire her so personally. hitchcock also advised eleanor in the riding of magazine articles. does anyone remember reading a large question and answer : in the ladies' home journal? yes? could. good. i still remember her advice on smoking. she said, well, she didn't really do it herself. as a good hostess she can always provide cigarettes for others. i have always been glad that i listened to her advice on a point. i never had to stop. anyway, she was writing for
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magazines. they were both helping her pressure articles. it is even believed that his truck if eleanor the idea for them by day, which was quite a popular column. she had a good many more readers. here she and eleanor are going down the street in san juan in pr to inspect conditions. hitchcock is the woman in the dress with a long time. after leaving the associated press she went to work directly for the resin of ministration as an undercover investigator of
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poverty and believe conditions. the residents of ministration did not really believe that the newspapers and the media of the day were telling people the extent of poverty. he wanted an independent investigation of how well welfare programs were working, and independence investigation of how desperate people really were. he wanted a personal source of information. one of the investigators who was hired to go around the country and make these reports that went to the new deal releases and also to a friend of himself. of course a lot are some of these reports. so that was part of their pori contract.
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now, certainly not a member of the upper class, the daughter of a traveling maker in south dakota who abused her as a child as a reporter for the associated press she learned to write for average people. she encouraged eleanor to write in that kind of style. she also encouraged eleanor who she admired tremendously to see herself as overall model for ordinary women. it certainly had the error of one neighbor talking to another. this conversational style highlighted many of the committee he said to these. the endless calls for of woman's magazine, the articles she wrote for women's magazines, day in the life of the white house, the role of women in politics, the role of women in cleaning up
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conditions in their own communities, that kind of thing. her paid radiobroadcast, her paid lecture tours. of course what she got from the column gave her income. in fact, she earned an average of about $70,000 a year, an average of $70,000 for year. as my husband can testify. now, $70,000 the year in those days is a pretty good salary, especially for a moment. particularly a good salary when you figure that franklin as president of the united states was only making 75,000. in fact, one story, i don't think it is true, but you run into, when she sold the first
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installment of her biography, this is my story to the ladies' home journal, $75,000 in 1937, and she ran through the white house waving a check. this is as much as britain made, and i made it myself. there is historical evidence that she really did believe that a paycheck validated a woman's worth. she opposed legislation that had the effect of forcing women to kick up there government jobs when they get married on the grounds that it wasn't right to have two wage earners in the family. she publicly advocated that ruby black culture with this. married women have the right to hold employment. houses have to tell you this story. my mother had to give up her job
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as a high-school teacher when she married my father. of course married woman could not be schoolteachers. anyway, which she told the superintendent of schools as she was getting married he said go, you see what i have left? only those once a battered by god nor man. [applause] an awful comments about unmarried female teachers, but that was sort of the way that things were back in that era. well, now, of course, while she is reviewing the role of first lady she is still carrying out the ceremonial activities. this is the white house christmas card from 1933. sitting properly by franklin side. she is making history in other ways. here she is showing an interest
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in african americans. she was really the ambassador of the rows of administration to africa. and believe discredit against. this is a picture from 1936 visiting howard university. the two students on either side addressed in reserve officer give a forbes. this picture was used in the south to attack racial policies of the rows of ministration. on the other hand it made a great hit in the african-american press of the day which would take pictures like this and run them to share that, here you have a first lady who was sympathetic to the cause of african americans. she travels all over the country giving speeches.
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some of them definitely are paid lectures. often she is accompanied only by one person, her trustworthy secretary who is the woman you see there with her. you see the kind of close the border. they let matronly. they were not supposed to have to try to keep in the way they are today. they were expected to dress like the older ladies. here she is on an airplane. of course she loved to fly. she traveled about 300 dozen miles during her first year, first eight years as first lady. then during world war two she was all over the globe visiting service personnel. here she is. you know, never quiet. if she was sitting down for a
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minute she would pull out her knit missing needles. this a photograph was used by the airline industry to try to promote flying among women. i just have to redo my favorite part of this book. it is short. here is an usher at the white house recalling eleanor racing through the white house to mustard flopping around her legs. she was on her way to numerous appointments and would jump into our wedding, and caught up to the driver, where am i going. on her way back she would get enough people to bring home to lunch. he says she sometimes invited so many that she forgot her they were. well, she was a very busy woman.
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of particular interest to this audience would be her interaction with capitol hill. now, of course, she operated behind the scenes as a conduit to place democratic women into positions in the roosevelt administration. she and molly put pressure on james farley to handle patrons' matters kidding jobs for these very well qualified to democratic women. she was the first president's wife to testify before congress addressing congressional committees on the plight of migrant labor and arguing the district of columbia. she was the first to hold the government of this talk appointed assistant director of the office of civil defense, serving for five months. it was a bad situation.
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she did not prove herself a good administrator. she put some people in their jobs that seems rather strange such as teaching dancing in air raid shelters. the press laughter out of that job. she never really hilton took her responsibility for the fact that she had made some mistakes in her lap -- in her column after she resigned two people can gradually be brought to understand that an individual, even if she is the president's wife, may have independent use and must be allowed the expression of opinion. actual participation in the work of the government, we are not yet able to accept. in banks, several times she was asked, particularly in later years if she was interested in being president. she says she didn't think the
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country was ready. well, it seems to have taken as a long time to get to the point where we might be. a kate. i'm going to move quickly because we want time to talk on ourselves. al show you some of the other slides that show her transforming the role of first lady. here she is talking to the democratic national convention. the convention is about to rebel because it does not want franklin stores as a vice-president. eleanor was called in to make a speech. she made such a stirring speech been intimating that the country was about to go to war and that the person in charge, the commander in chief, needed the people he could believe in to help them. the delegates went along with roosevelts wish and nominated wallace. here she is accompanying fdr.
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her oldest sun and his wife on a tour of a. on a more substantial not here she is addressing the national conference on the problems of negro youth in 1939 with head of the national youth administration. the highest ranking african-american woman in the roosevelt administration. an official of the national youth administration. did any of you, by any chance, participate in programs of the national youth administration? sometimes i talked to people and they say, yes. that is how i got through a school. this was a program to offer work study opportunities to students and let them stay in school during the tail end of the depression and the start of world war two when it was then changed into turning people to work in the defense industry.
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we know that eleanor was very instrumental in setting this national youth administration of in fact, fdr himself referred to it as the mrs. organization. here she is at campobello in july 1942 had a summer leader training institute of the international student services. now this, this is an integrated group. it was very rare for the day. unfortunately we do not see the show in this picture, the general secretary of the international students service. but he was the third person who was very instrumental in the way that she transformed several of first lady. a jewish man, a graduate of columbia university, an intellectual who is very involved in the left student movements of late 1930's.
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somehow he became one of her closest confidantes after her relationship waned in the late 1930's. now, as a representative of the press because of her column she attended hearings of the house un-american activities committee and which lies who played a leading in controversial role in his leftist youth organizations testified, was the minister of communist sympathizing. then he broke with communists and became a very strong anti-communist. he said that two of them have come more often the. he introduced her to the machinations of communism within social movements. alarm benefited from his political savvy. as he discussed the way in which
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communist up or hit within these movements. years later at the united nations she said that she did not have much trouble dealing with the russians because she learned about the communists when she did first lady. she learned a lot. by now accustomed to making the role of first lady one of real significance as a travelling ambassador for the first -- for the rose of all the administration, during world war two she makes an enormous number of visits. in fact, we're from washington so much that her washington newspaper has a headline. mrs. roosevelt to mistake in the white house overnight. here she is visiting enlisted men and the base and neglect of to have a lot -- the law is silence. here she i
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at the margins of society. here she is interviewing in 1943. well, we all know the end of the story. fdr dies in 1945 unexpectedly. lucy is with him when he dies, the old girlfriend. they pointed u.s. delegate --
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i'm sorry, appointed u.s. delegate to the united nations by president truman. she is as terminal in the creation of this document from one of the most important of the 20th-century. universal declaration of human rights. we would not have that document if it would not have been for elena's genius. the other political players of the united nations. so, let me conclude by saying that i personally think it makes the case that eleanor's ability to turn the relative passive role of first lady into a vibrant one of activism stems, in part, from the close relationship she has with the people who are outside of the normal aristocratic circles of an upper-class woman. these people, there are others
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as well. the female newspaper reporters that she knew, women like ruby black. of course louis howe, who unfortunately died in 1936, they all help per transform a position she did not really want, a job of first lady, and make it into a position of importance in the american presidency. and in that spirit acting she inspires us all to see the possibilities within our own lives for doing what we can. i would just like to end this with a "for a large book that she wrote in 1960. by living. you gain strength, courage, and
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confidence by every experience in which you really stop tillich fear in the face. you must do the thing you think he cannot do. if she did not think she could be first lady she succeeded very well. they do very well. now i call on mrs. johnson. >> from other traded shamelessly on her relationship.
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bride about it. [inaudible] as a young person things are pretty boring. looking back. margaret tipple, if she was discussing you know, there are things i did that understand that the time. this boring, nice lady. a 70 admired the things this
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did. at one. when i was in high school i actually got to spend a week with her. my mother somehow arranged that i should spend my spring break in new york. i got on a train and went up to new york. i guess. the united nations when she was working. she observed when she had held her own against the soviets. we went up to dallas. she went along. one of her glasses. this was a school for at risk
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boys. they were all black, i think. but you know, i have never. i was raised in virginia and had never been in a place. but the thing i realized, she had a lot of personal experience. she had more charm than you would think of. if you remember this book, yes, yes she did. the kind of person you would get a crush on. chicopee without a list of.
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[inaudible] she was not quite the ugly duckling that she likes to portray herself. so by the way, i just realized. with all this tradition, there were no negro women. >> separate spy black female reporters to get in. eleanor would have accepted that. but steve early, racist. but he let the men we're going to have to let the man to our conference. they kick them out.
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>> a completely different channel into this community. >> a great ambassador. he did not want make an effort to pass anti lynching legislation which was needed. he did not want to antagonize the seven congressmen over year in the capital. so franklin really didn't do all that much for african-americans. the fact that she was out their trying to do something spoke a lot. would you like to tell us about your experience? >> well, i did not know eleanor. and i was a teenager i played in a band. i was totally apolitical. my parents would have been republican. my father probably he did fdr because its camp from the commerce committee. he did not believe in social
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services, and so he probably did not believe in the new deal. anyway, we played for a political activity. she was the star. and so she came up and shook hands with each of us. now as i think back to that i think how wonderful it was tougher to take the time to do that. we were just kids. i'm sure she has many important people to talk to, and we were not among them. she took time to shake hands and talk. >> do we have questions or comments to back. >> african-american relationships. in new york there was a newspaper. i think it was the afro-american, but i'm not quite sure. pardon me. the amsterdam news. langston hughes had a column in the newspaper.
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he had a spokesman, of very simple kind of guy who he name symbol. the title of this column was simple says. one of the things that i remember reading in knowing when i was young was simple says let's kill all the white folks, except eleanor roosevelt. [laughter] >> okay. five children. did she spend time with them? common with the upper class of that era : the children were little they turned over a lot of their care to nurses and governesses and hired help. the later years of her life, one of the reasons why should travel
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so much to go out and see a lot of her children all over the country. elliott never went to college and was kind of a bad boy. he would get very good jobs. he's just trading at his father's name. some of the children would be fired by political opponents of the roosevelt. started to embarrass the roosevelts. also trying to keep a foot in the white house. for example, hired anna, the daughter to commend her husband, to run his newspaper. i think the employment would not have taken place.
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generally headline said seduced with their job. they had a tremendous loss in the divorce suit. nineteen divorces. but, we tally them up. and, you know, a much bigger deal in those days than it is now. children did have a fractured personal relationship, and it taints the way. other questions or comments? >> the favorite letters that i had, apologized for asking questions about whether you had gotten. this

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